Saturday, March 25, 2006

Pretty Day

What an absolutely lovely day for a run! It was a little colder than I usually like this morning and I was tired because I got kind of caught up in my writing last night and was up until an embarrassingly late/early hour. But I don't usually worry too much about sleep. I can do that anytime, and I often do.

So today was my first "run-only" long run with no walk breaks, since February's illness. And it went great! After 30 minutes on the elliptical machine to get my sleepy self going, I headed out to the bayou trails and did 10 miles, stopping only for water. It's so nice to run in early spring! The crepe myrtles were blooming, the little gardens along the trail were full of flowers, there were little purple wildflowers, pink primroses and white clover nestled in the grass at the sides of the trail, and there were even spots of honeysuckle and jasmine blooming over by the budding mulberry trees.

I ran along, scattering fat, lazy pigeons, watching people walk their dogs or zoom past me on their mountain bikes. A few people were out early, playing Frisbee golf. And there was a 5K fun run/walk going on over on Allen Parkway, so I got to watch that as I ran by. It's always great to see so many people out getting a little exercise. I find it especially encouraging to see parents with their young children. It's so important to teach good habits early. I've noticed that even adults who stray off into bad habits in their teens and twenties will eventually get back on track if they were shown the right way to live when they were younger.

When I finished with the trails, I crossed the bridge over Memorial Drive and ran the little loop behind the park by my apartment. It's a regular part of my run and adds about a quarter mile. The trail goes past a softball field that is always in use this time of year. The park itself was full of dogs and their humans, and the tennis courts were in use, too. Everyone comes out for this kind of weather. It seems like the time between "cold and wet" and "unbearably hot and humid" is so short.

Gotta make the most of it!

Recent Workouts
Wednesday: 30 minute elliptical, 20 minute strength training
Thursday: 45 minute spin - Spinervals 7.0 Uphill Grind
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: 30 minute elliptical, 10 mile run

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Perky Girl! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Blue Skies

What a pretty, sunshiney day!

The day started out very stressful. After a meeting that ran late yesterday, I came in to my office this morning and found an email saying in effect, "Remember the plans we started to make yesterday? You need to present your plan at today's lunch meeting."


Okay, I only just started wrapping my brain around this project and already I'm supposed to present and answer questions at the big pan-managerial meeting… at 11:30 today?

Oh, sure. Right. I have nothing else to do this morning, other than generate a couple of critical documents, review some reimbursements, and teleconference with a major vendor who can't seem to get us a correct invoice for our biggest software maintenance package, which is already past due.

So I did what I could about getting a plan together. Then I got a few other basic housekeeping items out of the way and went to my meeting. But once there, it quickly became apparent that no one was going to stay on schedule. So my business manager took me and my counterpart from another department aside and told us that we wouldn't have time to present, after all. All that stress for nothing, but we didn't care. Brenda and I were relieved and feeling silly, so while she pantomimed the dramatic declamation that she wasn't going to get to do, I did a few arabesques and said that I had spent all morning preparing an interpretive dance about the budgets. We made the business manager laugh and it certainly lightened the moment.

We finished up the meeting just after 2:00 and I hung around to network and chat with people. Then I ran a couple campus errands and decided to go home. I got in at 3:00, answered a few emails and voicemails from the office, then decided to go for a little run. The sky was bright blue, the crepe myrtles were blooming pink and white, clover patches covered the banks of the bayou and it was an absolutely delicious day to be outside.

I still have some things I need to work on this evening, but it sure was nice to be able to enjoy a sunny afternoon! Burying myself in a spreadsheet is something better done at night or in bad weather, not when there's a whole bright world out there just begging me to enjoy it!

Recent Workouts
Tuesday: 5.5 mile run

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Weekend Workouts

Saturday morning I dragged myself downstairs to the gym and did 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer. My plan was to go for a run afterwards, weather permitting. And although it was gusty and threatening rain, I decided to just go for it and see what happened. I'm glad I did! It didn't rain a drop, and I did two bayou loops, walk/run but at a nice hearty 20 minutes per run session. Barring unforeseen illness or injury, I'll be ready to tackle a full ten miles without scheduled breaks next weekend!

I didn't see much of interest on my route, but I was pleased at the number of spring wildflowers that are starting to pop up. And the mulberry trees are full of little green clusters that will be ripe in just a few more weeks. In other happy news, the new stairs that they've been taking their sweet time about building from Sabine street down to the water level, are almost done. They have some fancy signs up now that say "Buffalo Bayou" something-or-other and have a picture of a buffalo. I'm pretty sure Houston wasn't ever buffalo country, but I'm very excited about the stairs. They'll be good for torturing myself when I want to add a little stair-running challenge in the middle of a run. I hope to learn to hate these stairs with enthusiasm.

My tentative plan for today had been to do an organized ride out in Pearland this morning. But last night the weather reports said to expect thunderstorms, "some possibly severe." Well, that didn't sound like good bike-riding weather to me, although since the promised rain on Saturday hadn't materialized I kept checking all evening long for updates. When I finally went to bed, it was still "thunderstorms, some possibly severe."

So when I woke up at 9 am this morning to no storms, severe or otherwise, I logged on and found that we were now due for "scattered showers." That's right, just showers.

Thanks, guys. I know weather forecasting isn't easy, but I wouldn't have stayed home just for scattered showers.

I went to the Y instead and got in a good strength training workout. There was a woman there who looked to be in her fifties and she was slim, strong and gorgeous with fab upper arms that curved in all the right places and didn't jiggle a bit. I was so envious! I tried not to stare, but I so wanted to go tell her, "I want to be just like you when I grow up!" Oh, and did I mention she was lifting 25 pound hand weights? Sigh. Someday. Heck, if I could just get back up to 20, I'd consider myself well on the road to goddesshood.

Tonight's plan is to spend a little time on the trainer, since the you-know-what's at the weather service can't tell a thunderstorm from a chance of showers and I still need to do something on the bike today. Grrrr… Maybe I can get Dan to leave me his satellite radio when goes out for the evening. Sometimes I prefer that to queuing up mp3s. I don't know why it is, but I can never think of a song I want to hear when I go to download new music, but whenever I turn on the satellite radio, I hear song after song that I love.

Go figure.

Update: I did a 90 minute spin session this evening. All scheduled workouts present and accounted for!

Recent Workouts
Saturday: 30 minute elliptical, 8.5 mile run, 1.5 mile walk
Sunday: 15 minute elliptical, 45 minute core/strength training, 90 minute spin - Spinervals 5.0 Mental Toughness

Friday, March 17, 2006

The wearin' o' the green! Posted by Picasa

Luck o' the Irish

When you can trace your lineage back to Pilgrims and Conquistadors, the Irish can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. So today I'll tell you about the Irish part of my family.

One day around the turn of the last century, Mayflower descendent Lillian Carver had the audacity to go out for a buggy ride with upstart Irish immigrant Frank McPeake. Lillian's father locked every door in the house and she was forced to spend the night with the Irishman's family. In those days, if a young lady didn't come home and spent the night with her beau, she had no choice but to marry him or lose her reputation. And so she married him, and family lore has it that she never really got over it.

But to a casual observer, it seemed a lucky break for Lillian. Through luck and acumen, Frank became quite wealthy in the hotel and tavern business. They sent their eight children to school in chauffeured limousines. They hosted Teddy Roosevelt, Admiral Byrd and Babe Ruth. They sent their children, even the girls, to college.

But Lillian made a bad investment in the Florida land boom of the 1920s and the family hadn't sufficiently recovered to weather the 1929 stock market crash. They lost everything, even their house.

Their daughter Lillian, who became my grandmother, always had more boyfriends than she could keep up with. She wasn't a great beauty, but she was pretty and had a charming way about her that kept men interested. One man, George, was the son of Irish immigrants. After the stock market crash he seemed to have no prospects. He went to work for a federal relief program where one of his jobs was to shovel dead rats out of warehouses after they had been exterminated with poison. It was a lousy way to earn a buck, but what could one do?

Then one day George won big in an illegal lottery. He bought a golf course in Boston. And he bought young Lillian's destitute parents a house. The young lady who had already been engaged three times and had turned down so many other men, became his wife.

No one was playing golf during the Depression and they soon lost the golf course, but young Lillian's brother Frank had gotten a job as a mechanic for American Airlines. George knew nothing about airplane mechanics, but he had a natural aptitude for machinery and there was no such thing as electronic reference checking in those days. Frank vouched for George's skills and he was in.

To the best of the family's knowledge, no plane ever crashed because of my grandfather. And he must've done something right because when he retired in the 1960s, he had oversight of all American Airlines maintenance at one of their important hubs. The job had enabled them to send their youngest son on trips to Europe and allowed George and Lillian to spend the early years of their retirement flying all over the world. They bought a house on Cape Cod, as did Lillian's sisters and brothers. They settled in to many happy years of visits, bridge games, and of course free airline travel, which they used to bring their only granddaughter to the Cape for long summer visits where she developed a passion for the New England coast that persists to this day.

Thanks, Grandpa and Grandma.

And a hearty Irish Blessing to you all!

Recent Workouts
Today: 500 meter swim

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Spring Break

One of the cool things about working at a university is that we sometimes get to benefit from the same breaks we give our students. So while we didn't get all of this week off, we do get Friday off, which is nice. Very nice. Especially when you consider that the local K-12 school districts are also having their spring break this week, so a lot of the people I work with have been out this week, lightening my workload. Although Monday and Tuesday were busy, by Wednesday, things had gotten pretty quiet because so many people were out. Today I had to finally give up and go home early because there weren't enough people around for me to get any work done. I'd start one project, hit a snag, not be able to find anyone to answer a question, move on to another project, hit another snag, make another series of unanswered phone calls…

You get the idea.

But it was cool. I left at 2:30 and got an early start on my personal to-do list for Friday instead. And who doesn't like that?

My plan for tomorrow is to hit the gym in the morning and then run a few errands. After that, who knows? I'll probably just settle in at the computer and eat a late lunch, but a whole extra "free" day all to myself is a very special thing. I might get inspired. I might have a sudden brilliant notion. Or I might just say to heck with it and take a nap. You never know!

Recent Workouts
Tuesday: 5 mile run
Wednesday: 35 minute bike: Spinervals 1.0 No Slackers Allowed
Thursday: 30 minute elliptical - intervals

Monday, March 13, 2006

All Ears. Posted by Picasa

Getting' Macha

Yesterday I hit the weight room again. I didn't do anything significantly different from last week, but I'm not as sore this time. If I do my core and strength training at home again during the week like a good girl, I'll be ready for a small increase in weight by next weekend, I think.

Of course, that could prove problematic, since I'm hoping to do a ride next Sunday, and that would conflict with my gym time. There's an organized ride out of Pearland, which is perfect for where I'm at in my recovery-from-illness phase. It's flat, it's not a huge long drive to get there, and there's a 45 mile distance which ought to be about right. According to, it will be raining this coming weekend, but we'll see about that. This far out, a lot can change. But I've got a plan and a backup plan, so I'm all set, no matter what kind of weather we have!

After I did my weight training yesterday, I ran a couple of errands and then settled in to do a bit of writing. It's way too early to tell if the novel I'm working on now is any good, but I really don't care. It's distancing me from the manuscript I recently finished, and that's what I'm really after. I will need that mental distance in order to properly edit my completed manuscript.

Last night after my evening nap (aren't I decadent?), I got on the bike and did a Spinerval. I was happy to see my cadence and mph weren't too far off from where I was before I got sick. I had expected it to be a lot worse. So things are looking pretty good in that department.

Now if only I can get through tomorrow. I have another late afternoon meeting that threatens to be much like today's-- long on talk and short on real solutions. I really do wish we could do a better job of staying on topic. I don't usually mind a meeting that runs overtime if we're solving problems or at least identifying what those problems might be. But when we're just taking turns rambling on about stuff on the periphery, well… I've got other things I could be doing. Don't they? Life is way too short to spend sitting in a conference room talking about whether or not we'll have enough time to do the real work, if we can ever figure out what it is. Am I the only one who sees what's wrong with this picture?

Recent Workouts
Sunday: 1 hour core and strength training, 45 minute spin - Spinervals 3.0 Suffer-O-Rama

Sunday, March 12, 2006

We like Sport Beans! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Product Review: Sport Beans

Sport Beans by Jelly Belly!

The short review is: Yummy!

They come in orange and lemon-lime. Rumor has it that more flavors will follow.

I tried these on Thursday when I found myself faced with an interesting dilemma. One of my cars was ready to be picked up at the shop, just a mile away. Usually I would walk over, but I also wanted to get in a run before I got caught up in other things and lost my ganas. The perfect solution was to go for a run and make my route end up at the auto mechanic's shop. The problem was that it was dinner time and I was hungry.

What to do?

A gel didn't sound good. And a Clif bar was more calories than I needed and would've sat in my stomach like a rock. Then I remembered I'd bought Sport Beans awhile back! One packet is about 100 calories and also includes sodium, potassium and vitamins C and E. Sounded good. I opened a package of orange ones and found them to be very tasty. They were exactly what I needed-- a little sugar boost before my run, but fun to eat, easy to get down, and not heavy. I ate half the packet and then saved the rest for when I got home.

They really were tasty. And I had a good run, too. I don't know if I'd go saying it was the jelly beans that did it, but they sure didn't hurt!

Conclusion: Buy Sport Beans!

Saturday Run

This has been a pretty good week of training for me. I'm not back up to the levels I want to be at, but I'm happy with the way I'm bouncing back.

Today I did half an hour on the elliptical trainer, then did a ten mile run/walk. I shortened my walk breaks from last week and did seven miles of running, three of walking. There were some times when my lungs hurt a little, and toward the end of the run I could feel my legs getting tired, but overall it was a good run. The Bayou City 10K was going on, so I got to hear lots of music while I ran the trails. I kind of wish now I had signed up for the race, but I wasn't at all sure I would be ready for 6.2 by today, and it was probably for the best anyway. I would've only tried to push myself and that wouldn't have been a good thing.

One positive thing has come out of my forced time off from running-- my hip pain and ITB symptoms have gone away. I'm determined to be careful of how I get back into things this time-- more strength training, less of my usual desire to do too much, too soon. It takes such an effort of will to remember that I'm not twenty years old and can't just go throwing myself into things, expecting my body to be able to deal with it.

I'm disappointed that I had such a setback in February, because the weather for tomorrow's Bluebonnet ride looks like it will be good. But I'm not up for a long hilly ride yet, and I'm sure not going to get up at dark-thirty to drive all the way out to Hempstead and ride the short route. If I'm going to spend more time driving than I will on the bike, it ain't worth it. So the plan is to hit the weight room in the morning and then spin or take my bike to the picnic loop, depending on time and personal inclination.

Recent Workouts
Saturday: 30 minute elliptical, 7 mile run, 3 mile walk
Friday: Rest day
Thursday: 4 mile run
Wednesday: 45 minute core and strength training
Tuesday: 30 minute elliptical, 15 minute run

Monday, March 06, 2006

Rabbit. Belly view. Posted by Picasa


That's what it feels like the day after hitting the weight room for the first time in awhile. And the scary part is that I wasn't really lifting that much. It was kind of embarrassing, actually. In some cases I was at only half what I could lift back when I was much more serious about it.

Oh well. The only thing more embarrassing than lifting girlie weights is not showing up at all.

I rounded out my Sunday with a walk and a good 30 minute spin session. I did better than I had expected on the bike, so I might be hitting the spring ride series sooner than I had anticipated. That would be nice. It might not even be too late to still consider an April tri in Austin. I just need my arms to quit hurting long enough for me to get in the water and make sure I can still swim, now that I can breathe again.

Did I mention I'm really enjoying this breathing thing? It's great. Everyone should try it.

Recent Workouts
Sunday: 45 minute weights, 3 mile walk, 30 minute spin

Saturday, March 04, 2006

We like good news! Posted by Picasa

Running Again - Finally!

I had a bit of a setback with my breathing on Thursday, but Friday was hugely better-- I felt almost normal again. Normal for me, at any rate. So I decided to try out my newly healed lungs today with a "long" run. Or rather, a long event, consisting partly of running.

The plan was to alternate a half mile of walking with a half mile of running for as long as seemed reasonable. Good thing I got the battery in my GPS watch replaced recently! Everything went very nicely. I wore my new shoes from the Marathon Expo, and they felt very springy and comfy. I did a bayou loop/River Oaks combo and ended up doing ten miles, of which five were running, five walking. I could've gone a little farther, but I felt pretty tired and I didn't want to push anything. It's been what, more than two weeks since I've run at all? Three? Whatever the number is, it's scary.

I figure I'll be sticking with run/walk combos for a little while, at least on my longer ventures. I highly recommend it to anyone getting back into distance running after injury or illness. It's how I've always returned to the road, and I've always been able to get my form back within a few weeks without mishap. I know there are folks out there who sneer at "Gallowalkers," but to them I say that run/walk combos absolutely have a place in the sensible athlete's training plan, not as an end result but as a transitional stage. I look forward to being back to my usual run-only mileage by April, if not sooner.

My plan for tomorrow is some weight training and moderate spinning. I'm hoping to get my bike legs back in shape soon, now that the spring bike series is here. I've already missed the Gator Ride in Baytown, which I haven't missed in a few years. Bluebonnet doesn't look too good for next weekend, either. I doubt I have the legs or the lungs for hills right now. But maybe I'll be ready for a good metric century by the end of the month. I need to quit being such a pessimist about these things. If I'm slow for a little while, well, I have a good excuse. It's hard to train when you can't breathe.

Recent Workouts
Today: 10 miles, alternating walking/running

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Feeling Better

Well, I'm pleased to report that I'm off all my meds and doing better. Yesterday was my first day off the prednisone and it was kind of tricky. I had times when I was really dragging and having trouble controlling my body temperature, but I just kept drinking lots of water and trying to flush my system. I figure I'll wait until the weekend to try any strenuous exercise. I spent a week on a Cipro-derived antibiotic, so I'm now working at flushing all the remnants of that nasty poison out of my body, too.

But I felt a lot better today. And so of course my car wouldn't start. Did I mention that I've been driving my "extra" car while my RX-7 is in the shop?


So I got AAA out here, and since it wasn't a battery issue, we had to tow it. Luckily my mechanic is only a mile away. I told Francisco kindly but in no uncertain terms that I needed at least one of my cars back today. So after determining that my "extra" car simply had a bad ignition coil, he said he would fix that first. As for me, I was like, whatever. Just get one of them fixed today because you can't keep them both.

I walked home, checked some emails from work, then settled in to do some things around the house. Funny thing, but I always feel guilty if I spend a workday at home and don't do any housework. I feel that way even when I'm sick, which is kind of odd, because I really do hate housework, and illness is such a great excuse to not do any. So since my lungs were feeling better today, I decided to tackle the vacuuming and see if I couldn't mess up a good thing. Not only did I vacuum up enough bunny fur to create three new bunnies, but I also gave myself a mild asthma attack.

No, I’m not really stupid. I only act that way sometimes.

I felt better after I had a little Breathe Easy tea. And I completed my "scary projects day" by emptying all the trash cans and taking the trash out to the dumpster, then putting a new tube on my rear tire. I just replaced the tube a few weeks ago, but it was an old tube and it turned out to have a very slow leak. It was okay for riding the trainer because it would stay inflated long enough to get through a workout, but it was never going to do for the road. So I got that matter taken care of.

In all, it was quite a productive day, even if I never made it to the office.

At 3:00 they called to say my car was ready, so I walked over and picked it up. Then since it was such a pretty day, warm and sunny with a cool breeze blowing, I decided to go for a walk. I went and did the five mile bayou loop, and it was one of those wonderful golden days that feels like an unexpected blessing. Very nice. It made me happy and perky. I got in just a little ahead of Dan, who had spent the whole day working, poor baby. I sure didn't seek out this little "free" day, but I made the most of it, just the same.

Recent (Lame) Workouts
Monday: 30 minute walk, 30 minute slow elliptical
Tuesday: 30 minute walk, 30 minute slow elliptical with intervals
Wednesday: 7 miles brisk walking